Here’s the best introduction to the basics I could find: the wonderful Common Craft folk explain clearly, in this animated video, augmented reality.
This is the transcript of the video they kindly provide for brilliant accessibility:
“I think we can all agree that reality is pretty great. It’s what we experience through our senses like our eyes, and phones with cameras. The Internet is awesome too, but the Internet and reality have a hard time working together. Thankfully this is changing quickly. New tools mean that the world around you can now be seen with a layer of new information from the Internet.
Let’s start with an example. If you’ve ever seen a movie with a fighter pilot, you’ve seen the pilot’s view from the cockpit – but something’s missing.
The pilot needs a layer of information that adds useful items to his view of reality. Recently, this kind of layer started working on your smartphone. But instead of flight data, you have data about the world around you. It’s Augmented Reality.
Let’s say you’re hungry and at a busy intersection. There are multiple restaurants around you, but you don’t know where they are or which one is the best. You could look up each one on a computer, or just take your chances.
But now, thanks to new software on mobile phones, you can simply point your phone’s camera at buildings around you and voila! Restaurants are magically highlighted and a layer of information about the restaurant appears on the screen.
Another example is shopping. You can point your camera at a product and see a layer of information about it, like prices of the same product at other stores in the area or on the Internet.
And this functionality only requires a few things. First, a smartphone with a camera to capture reality. Second, a connection to the Internet for receiving the layer of information. Third, software on your phone to bring it all together. It also helps to have a phone with GPS and a compass so it knows which direction you’re facing.
Augmented reality can also work with a camera attached to your computer. You can hold products in front of the camera and see a layer of information on your screen that makes reality more interesting and even fun.
These examples are just the beginning. In the future, you may wear glasses that have a tiny display that you can see while walking. As you walk by stores, buildings, people and products, this screen displays information from sites like Wikipedia or Google. Suddenly your reality is richer and more interesting.
It’s coming, but augmented reality has a long way to go. Keep your eye out for ways that augmented reality adds layers of information to your reality.”
THANKS Common Craft